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Egypt's elections: What will happen and what's at stake

By the CNN Wire Staff
November 28, 2011 -- Updated 1214 GMT (2014 HKT)
Demonstrators worry the military, which would continue as Egypt's top authority until a president is in place, wants to keep power.
Demonstrators worry the military, which would continue as Egypt's top authority until a president is in place, wants to keep power.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Voters will select representatives over the course of several months
  • The ruling military council says presidential elections take place by June
  • Some Egyptians will boycott the vote while others expressed hope and optimism

Cairo (CNN) -- For the first time since the end of President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule, Egyptians will be able to choose their representatives to the nation's Parliament. Here's a look at what's at stake, how the process will unfold and why some are boycotting the elections.

Q. What are the different stages of the parliamentary elections?

Monday marks the beginning of many rounds of elections for both the upper and lower houses of Parliament.

Voting will be carried out in waves -- in different months and in different governorates -- around the country up until March.

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Elections for the lower house -- the People's Assembly -- are scheduled to take place in three stages, the last one of which is set for January. The People's Assembly will be tasked with drafting a new constitution.

Polls open for Egypt's historic vote

Elections for the upper house -- the Shura Council -- will run between January and March, and a presidential vote will follow.

Q. How many parties and candidates are participating?

Egyptians have dozens of political parties and thousands of independent candidates to choose from.

Two-thirds of the seats will be filled by parties, and the other third by open candidates.

The once-banned Muslim Brotherhood, one of the nation's largest organizations, is expected to perform well in the election, which is taking place against the backdrop of demonstrations calling for an immediate end to military rule.

Q. Why are demonstrators still angry?

Demonstrators say they are concerned the military, which would continue to be Egypt's top authority until a president is in place, wants to keep a grip on the country.

Many also have voiced anger about a proposed constitutional principle that would shield the military's budget from scrutiny by civilian powers.

Military leaders say they will hand over power to a new government when one is elected. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Egypt's current ruling body, said presidential elections will be held by June.

Q. How deadly have recent clashes been?

At least 42 people have been killed in demonstrations over the past two weeks, including at least 33 in Cairo. An additional 3,250 have been wounded, according to Egypt's Health Ministry.

Q. What's at stake in these elections?

Egypt is the most populous country in the Arab world and a major player in regional politics. The outcome of its revolution will have wider repercussions.

"It is easy to imagine a spiraling of unrest and violence if elections are perceived as illegitimate by a significant number of Egyptians," Shadi Hamid, an analyst at the Qatar-based branch of the Brookings Institution, wrote recently.

Hamid added that the elections "are so critical for both Egyptians and everyone else who wishes to see Egypt move toward democracy and some modicum of stability."

Q. How do Egyptians feel about the elections?

Some Egyptians are boycotting the parliamentary elections while others say they are excited about the opportunity.

"I fought for these elections in Tahrir Square and even got shot, but I am boycotting them completely," taxi driver Omar Ahmed said. "I don't trust the military one bit ... It's a farce."

But some are hopeful in the streets full of election banners -- a strong sign of democracy in a country ruled for 30 years by Mubarak's iron fist.

"Before, there was always cheating," electrical engineer Mohamed Rida'a Mohamed Abdulla said. "Now -- I could be wrong -- but I think my vote will count."

CNN's Ivan Watson, Ben Wedeman and Holly Yan and journalist Mohamed Fadel Fahmy contributed to this report.

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